I believe in the power of listening. Listening deeply to what others have to say. And from there enabling connections and encounters for people to reach common goals. I am a big fan of public participation and conversations and believe in the power of collaboration to transform territories such as communities, neighborhoods, or cities.
When I got invited to run the dialogues in Ecuador, I felt excited and saw an opportunity to connect some of the actions that inspire me the most: such as dialoguing, meeting with people, deep listening, food systems, and agroecology.
According to a study performed by the city in collaboration with Ruaf foundation, only 5% of the food requirements are covered by what is produced in Quito. The large amount comes from other territories and nearly 60% enters from the south. What if the city were to face road cuts or another disruptive event? The autonomy of food for the city is very low, therefore urban agriculture represents an opportunity to give alternatives to citizens.
Together with Rikolto International based in Ecuador, we are conducting a pilot project where we aim to listen to and amplifying farmers’ voices in two geographical settings: one in the highlands (rural Quito) and in the coast (Manabí).
The farmers organization that we are working within rural Quito is called Yunta Zambiceña and are in the county of Zambiza. It is an organization that emerged during the pandemic since women farmers could not bring their agroecological products to big markets in Quito; therefore, they got together with the help of a group of agronomists in the county and set up a farmers’ market in the community. Visit their page to learn more.
While the organization that we are working with in the province of Manabí, in the coast, is called La Troja Manaba, a coalition of farmers and peasants’ organizations. They have a vast experience promoting agroecological practices, food sovereignty, and fostering political organizing practices among their members. If you want to learn more about La Troja Manaba, click here.
We want to hear the needs and obstacles that farmers in these two settings are facing and learn about how they are overcoming those challenges. Particularly challenges that have a connection to climate change and governance related to sustainable, resilient, and just food systems.
We want to learn from farmers and that is why we believe that running dialogues in these two settings will bring about important topics and issues for fostering agroecological practices in food systems. These dialogues will help amplifying farmers voices in their quest for more resilient agriculture that takes care of the environment and supports their livelihoods.
We are aware that we are planning our dialogues in the midst of a pandemic, where face to face interactions is limited. Therefore, for our dialogues we want to think about a methodology that can be as inclusive as possible regarding digital literacy, as well as internet access, and regarding farmers times and schedules, particularly of women farmers who fulfill care giving tasks.
We are using a methodology called appreciative inquiry to run our dialogues and get to hear farmers voices departing from appreciating what they are already doing in their communities and their practices. We want to use this methodology because we prefer to start from positive inputs instead of asking about what they are lacking.
We want to hear what is important for farmers in these two settings and think broadly together about issues such as climate change and how are they facing and overcoming those challenges.
In our next blog we will tell you how these dialogues will take place with La Yunta Zambiceña and La Troja Manaba, in Ecuador.